Trump could more than double his proposed tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese goods — and China is preparing to strike back against US 'blackmail'

  • The Trump administration is said to be ready to raise its proposed tariffs on $US200 billion of Chinese goods.
  • Trump has threatened 10% tariffs on those goods, but Bloomberg says he is expected to increase that to 25%.
  • The move is thought to be a negotiating tactic aimed at gaining important concessions from the Chinese government.
  • Beijing has reacted angrily to the reports, accusing Trump of “blackmail” and threatening retaliation.
  • Tariffs on $US34 billion of largely industrial goods have already been imposed on China.

After a handful of quiet days in President Donald Trump’s trade war, it looks as if a further escalation may be on its way following reports that another round of tariffs on China could be announced imminently and a statement from the Chinese government saying it is readying a retaliation.

According to Bloomberg, the Trump administration is considering levying tariffs of 25% on $US200 billion worth of Chinese goods shipped to the US, a move that would inevitably deepen tensions between the two nations. Trump so far has publicly threatened 10% tariffs on this tranche of imports.

Citing three sources familiar with the plans, Bloomberg said the US would raise its threat to 25% tariffs as a means of getting the Chinese government to enter into negotiations to de-escalate the conflict, which has seen tit-for-tat tariff impositions largely on industrial goods.

The increased tariff proposals could be announced in a Federal Register notice as early as Wednesday, one of Bloomberg’s sources said.

The US has already placed 25% tariffs on about $US34 billion worth of Chinese goods, and it has just finished consulting on another set to be imposed on goods worth $US16 billion. It earlier imposed tariffs on imports of steel and aluminium from China and other countries.

Goods already affected by Trump’s tariffs against China include batteries, trains, and ball bearings, but they could extend to more consumer goods if further tariffs are imposed. You can see a full list of goods subject to tariffs here.

Before his latest tariff threat, Trump previously signalled a readiness to “go to 500,” or impose tariffs on all $US505 billion of goods coming from China to the US.

“I’m not doing this for politics – I’m doing this to do the right thing for our country,” he told CNBC during the interview in which he made that threat. “We have been ripped off by China for a long time.”

The latest reports of Trump’s willingness to increase tariffs on China were met with anger in Beijing, with a government representative accusing the US of attempting to “blackmail” China. The government also made clear that it was willing to hit back at any additional tariffs.

“US pressure and blackmail won’t have an effect,” Geng Shuang, a spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, said, according to Reuters. “If the United States takes further escalatory steps, China will inevitably take countermeasures and we will resolutely protect our legitimate rights.”

Things look better for Europe

As the Trump administration ratchets up its threats to China about rising tariffs, the worst of its conflict with the European Union over trade appears to be over, after last week Trump climbed down on imposing tariffs on European automobiles imported by the US.

During a meeting in Washington, DC, last Wednesday, Trump and the European Commission’s president, Jean-Claude Juncker, agreed to the beginnings of a deal meant to lower tensions between the two parties.

“This was a very big day for free and fair trade,” Trump said in a press conference after the two met.

In the meeting, the EU agreed to import more American soybeans and liquefied natural gas. The two sides committed to work to lower industrial tariffs and adjust regulations to allow US medical devices to be traded more easily in European markets.

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